The Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program debuted in February 2019. Now, one year later, industry companies are using the program and realizing success.
What’s working for attracting apprentices? How are they managing the program within their companies? What lessons can they pass along? Two companies who have used the program–L.G. Scott and Eichenlaub Inc.–will be presenting these answers at NALP’s Workforce Summit in March. Here’s a preview of some of their thoughts about the program.
Apprenticeship Program: L.G. Scott
Luke Scott, who owns L.G. Scott with his brother Larkin, says the Providence Forge, Virginia-based company, which does about $1 million a year in revenue, is excited about the possibilities the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program will offer when it comes to hiring and retaining qualified workers.
Currently, the company has two apprentices enrolled. Scott says they’ll ideally look to enroll another two down the road (keeping it to two at a time from both a cost effectiveness and management viewpoint).
What makes Scott most excited about the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program is that it establishes standards that did not previously exist.
“Prior to this program, you had to hire people based on their word and their references,” Scott says. “But references can be far from reliable when different companies have very different standards of what they view as quality work. So, you literally have no idea what you’re going to get with a new hire until you’re a few months in. But with this program we now have set standards that we can use to hire qualified people.”
Another aspect of the program that Scott says he’s excited about is the instruction. Since there are so many different methods of instruction—and everyone learns differently—Scott says he has found teaching a bit overwhelming in the past.
“Honestly, I’m a landscaper, not a teacher, and while I’ve certainly done my best at teaching our team over the years, I really appreciate that this program incorporates a strong learning and education component,” he says. “With this already structured, it takes the guesswork out of it for me.”
Apprenticeship Program: Eichenlaub
Dan Eichenlaub, president of Eichenlaub Inc., in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, says launching the apprenticeship program at his company is opening up a whole new pool of candidates he didn’t have access to before. This was largely because of the way in which people perceive the landscape profession. Eichenlaub says the biggest gatekeepers holding promising students back from a career in the industry is often their parents.
“In the past, parents just weren’t that impressed by their child telling them they were going to graduate high school and get a job in landscaping,” Eichenlaub says. “To them, this was a step backwards. But now, with the apprenticeship program, I’m getting access to students I didn’t have access to before. Suddenly, their parents are recognizing that this can be an impressive career.”
Eichenlaub says many parents just don’t know what this industry is all about. Getting their “acceptance” has always been a challenge. Because apprenticeships are well-known in their region and have been popular with other industries, they have been a vital in-road for the industry.
“It’s important to think of the influencers in a student/potential hire’s life,” Eichenlaub says. “It’s usually the parents and peers. You don’t only have to win over that qualified applicant but also the people who influence their decisions. We feel the apprenticeship program is already doing that for us.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The landscape industry is experiencing a workforce crisis. No amount of action from any individual company will solve this problem. It is time for industry professionals to work together to identify solutions to this crippling challenge. Attend the Workforce Summit, March 1-3 in Alexandria, Virginia to learn more.